Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Claire Hanrahan from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:

Claire Hanrahan

Auditor

CRH plc

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Claire Hanrahan

The candidate needs to have a desire to travel. That is the most important. Travel is a vital part of the role of Internal Auditor at CRH. Your travel percentage ranges between 40% - 70% per year. They do try to keep it at a minimum but with a high staff turnover, you could be placed on additional audits that are short staffed.

You need to get on with all the people you work with also as you're away with these people for 4 nights a week for 4 weeks. You need to be friendly and outgoing and easy to get along with as it can get stressful on jobs so the last thing you want is someone who has attitude problems or can't communicate properly! Those 2 aspects are the most important for me.

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Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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From 200 points to Occupational Therapy

Colm Johnson is a shining example of why high CAO points shouldn’t put students off pursuing their dream career, writes Mary Phelan.

Colm Johnson from Gurteen in Sligo did his Leaving Certificate in 2007. While he considered occupational therapy at the time, his first choice on the CAO was a Level 8 degree in physiotherapy.

Colm got 200 points in his Leaving Cert, therefore not getting near the required points for physio. His first Level 7 choice was Health Science and Physiology at IT Sligo, but he didn’t get the points for that either. Yet Colm wasn’t disappointed with his results.

“I was happy to pass. I knew I wouldn’t get a great Leaving Cert because I was only doing two honours subjects.”

But a small matter like CAO points wasn’t going to stand between him and his desired career. “I tried to find back doors, which I did through the Cavan Institute,” explains Colm. “The careers counsellor at school was a great help.”

And so Colm took a place on a sports therapy course (now known as physiotherapy assistant) and gradually his interests broadened beyond physio. “Over time, my dreams kind of shifted due to the jobs market. I thought there would be too many physios around. I’m from a village of 1,000 people and already there are five or six physios there. I said I’d give occupational therapy a go. My mother was availing of the services of an occupational therapist and that’s what made me want to go into healthcare originally.” Colm says he found the sports therapy course very helpful, especially what he learned about anatomy and physiology. This knowledge came across in an interview he did with Canterbury Christ Church University, located in southeast England, and secured him a place on the three-year Level 8 Interprofessional Learning in Occupational Therapy degree.

“My course was a professional learning course,” explains Colm, “which meant I was in a group with other health professionals, learning with and from them.” Colm settled very well into Canterbury Christ Church. The fact that there were nursing students from Cavan Institute there (as that course also has a link with Canterbury Christ Church also helped. That the course wasn’t full of young academics was also a positive.

“Over here there are only two to three mature students in a class, but in Canterbury the majority of the class was mature students. They wanted people with life experience for the course. I had a friend in my class who didn’t even have GCSEs. “The universities in England give you leeway. They base acceptance to the course on the interview and personal statement. Life experience is very important.”

Colm may have gone the long way around to get his qualification, but this route was only a year longer than if he had completed occupational therapy in Ireland, as the degree here is four years, compared with Canterbury Christ Church’s three. “It was only an extra year in education. It was definitely worth it. I’d go through all of it again. Cavan gave me the opportunity to progress.”

The course in Cavan lasted two years and Colm says it wasn’t easy. He attributes the difficulty to the fact that the programme was comprised of Level 6 ITEC modules, which have a 60% pass rate and more demanding assessment. He finished his degree in June and he is now officially a professionally registered occupational therapist and is looking for a job in Ireland or the UK.

What’s Colm’s advice for this year’s crop of Leaving Certs?

“The most important thing is to get a background on the career and what it entails – go and organise some shadowing. Ask them questions. What does it take to do that career? What qualities do you need?

“Another good idea is to get a carer or healthcare assistant job. A lot of people go in and don’t like it and drop out. I was surprised by that, because they were chosen specifically for that course.” CL

Article by: Mary Phelan IFJ